A story almost every woman in India has heard or experienced. I’ve heard this phrase – “I don’t have a choice” – from so many women when it comes to the topic of marriage. Societal and family pressure can be enormous. The issue is perhaps a lot more complex than shown here, and this depiction is an over-simplification, but I believe that making women realize that they have a voice, a choice, is the big step forward.
So many brides in India get married in a system that still follows the appalling practice of dowry. After the ‘kanyadaan’, there is a ‘vidai/bidai’ ceremony where the bride leaves behind her maternal home to take the husband’s home as her own. But there is no ritual where the groom does the same. The bride’s family also supports the wedding expenses.
Though times are changing now, but I was recently quite surprised to find out that these are fairly common practices in both rural and urban India.
I don’t think either bride or groom should be subject to any of these processes, but it’s amusing to think of a role reversal.
Being a woman is hard in any part of the world. The biggest weapon that women can wield is the power of choice, the choice to make our own decisions, the choice to marry or reproduce or not do both, the choice to simply be. The ability to live without fear, the freedom to live without being judged. There are way too many expectations and demands of women, too many stereotyped casts that we are expected to fill.
A lot of women do succumb to pressure, it’s easy to give in. Ever so often, I hear an unhappy woman tell me, “I don’t really have a choice.” I hope that all of us realize that our lives are ours to lead, and that we get to make our own choices. This International Woman’s Day, here’s to empowering woman all over the world with choice.